HOPE AND AID FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH www.barnabasfund.org
IN THIS ISSUE Christian women and girls: victims of oppression in Muslim societies Godâ€™s people in Egypt: vulnerable and persecuted once more The spread of halal products: why should Christians be concerned?
Welcome from the Director
3 6 9 10
Project News Long-term care after Pakistan floods
Focus How Muslims persecute Christian women and girls
Testimony An Egyptian Christian convert from Islam tells her story
Resources New book on how to share your faith with Muslims
Pull-out Supplement A Christian response to the halal controversy
11 12 16
Operation Nehemiah Challenging the spread of halal in the UK
Country Profile The deepening plight of Christians in Egypt
Newsroom Dozens killed in attack on Baghdad church
Trusting God in a year of uncertainty The year 2011 looks set to be wracked by instability and violence. In Sudan a referendum about independence for the mainly Christian South, planned for 9 January, may lead to renewed conflict with the Islamic North. The last bout of civil war between North and South lasted from 1983 to 2005 and resulted in the deaths of around two million Southerners, mainly Christians. But if the South gains its independence, further problems may result. Will the South then fragment, and Christians fight against each other? What about the treatment of Christian Southerners living in the North – will they be punished for the South’s independence? There is also potential for armed conflict in the Middle East in the coming year. Iran may acquire nuclear weapons. If a war is fought it could draw in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and perhaps other countries. The war in Afghanistan continues, and its impact on Pakistan is growing, with Pakistan becoming increasingly destabilised as militants take their fight deeper into Pakistani territory. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement is growing in influence. These are but a few of the difficulties facing us in the new year. The position of Christians in these and other countries, particularly Islamic countries, is now very dangerous. In recent months we have heard Al-Qaeda’s call to attack Christian churches, leaders and institutions across the Middle East, the growing calls for the implementation of sharia in Muslim countries, thereby marginalising Christians, calls for the killing of all converts in Afghanistan, and the
powerful Organisation of the Islamic Conference calling for an end to all evangelism and conversion of Muslims. As the coming months unfold, these issues will be top of the agenda, if our Lord does not come, for Christians already in difficult situations. We do not know the times and seasons. What we do know is that our times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15). We put our trust in the Lord (v.14) who holds the world, history and time in His hands. In an age of uncertainty and with dark clouds looming, we need to remember that God remains in control. As we look to the coming year, the suffering Church needs your prayers and support more than ever. We also need more people to get involved with the ministry of Barnabas Fund. Would you consider asking some of your friends and relatives to let us send them our magazine and prayer diary? I am enclosing a card for you to reply to us with names and addresses of those who are willing to learn more about the persecuted Church and perhaps to join us in helping our brothers and sisters. Furthermore as we focus on Operation Nehemiah and the need to bring a spiritual transformation to the countries in which we live, will you join with us in the programmes we are developing? (Please see page 11 for further details.) I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to our friends and partners in the ministry for all your prayers, encouragement and support. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo International Director
To guard the safety of Christians in hostile environments, names may have been changed or omitted. Thank you for your understanding. Front cover: A Christian woman in Cameroon at a conference for worship and fellowship (see pages 6-9) Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version®.
Helping us help the 2010 BARNABAS AID NOVEMBER/DECEMBER persecuted Church
Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and obtain permission for stories and images used in this publication. Barnabas Fund apologises for any errors or omissions and will be grateful for any further information regarding copyright. The cover design on page 15 of the November/December 2010 issue was taken from the Farsi Contemporary Bible. Copyright © 1995 by BiblicaTM. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. © Barnabas Fund 2011
Project News Thanks to your generous support, we can bring aid to Christians who suffer discrimination or persecution because of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ. These gifts are changing lives and are bringing renewed hope for the future. Below and on the next pages you will find a selection of updates and news from just a few of the many projects we have been able to support because of your gifts. Please pray as you read.
Russia and Iraq: Equipment for Printing Christian Literature Barnabas often funds Christian literature projects, which bring such encouragement to believers under pressure. Usually we pay for the printing of particular Christian books or other materials. Recently, however, we paid for the purchase of printing equipment, on a small scale in Russia and a larger scale in Iraq. A grant of £69,707 (US$112,713; €80,761) was provided in order to make the printing plant in Iraq operational. Based in a relatively stable area, it will be used to produce Christian literature to strengthen the faith of Iraqi Christians who now face extreme
pressure and hostility in many parts of their homeland. Barnabas Fund also provided a ministry in Russia with a grant of £463 (US$749; €536) to buy a computer and printer for producing Christian literature for evangelism amongst the Central Asian immigrants living in one particular city. For example, the equipment was used to print hundreds of invitations to Uzbeks to come to a Christian celebration. More than 200 Uzbeks came to the event, many of whom were Muslim. Many were surprised to hear the pastor preaching about
Jesus rather than Muhammad. People were invited to have a meal together and talk about what they had heard. A local contact told us, “It was very interesting because it was the first time that there was such a chance to talk with Muslims about Jesus. Some people after that started to phone us and say that they wanted to read the New Testament and talk more with us about Jesus.” Project references 20-905 (Iraq – Christian printing house) 00-360 (Russia – Christian literature project)
New printing equipment being unloaded in Iraq. It will be used to print Christian literature to encourage the beleaguered Iraqi Christians
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Egypt: New Trades for Former Pig Farmers
Ukraine: Water and Gas Provision for Convert Christian Worker
Christians face much discrimination in Egypt and find it hard to get jobs. Many are forced to do the most menial of jobs and live in squalid and unhealthy conditions, such as the “garbage cities” surrounding Cairo. A number of Christians living here used to be pig farmers. The pigs ate the waste food and were a source of protein for the families. In April 2009 the pig farmers lost their livelihood when the Egyptian government decided to have all pigs in Egypt killed, supposedly to protect citizens from swine flu.
“Farid”, a Tatar church leader in the Crimea, Ukraine, has no water or gas on the premises where he, his wife and four children live. Farid converted from Islam more than ten years ago and has a ministry amongst Tatars in the region. His neighbours have wells but refuse to let his family access them because they are Christians. The family has to fetch water from a long distance, which is especially hard in the winter when the roads are blocked by snow. In the summer, they need a lot of water for growing vegetables.
Barnabas Fund is helping former pigfarmers to become self-sufficient again by providing goats, sheep, buffaloes or plastic recycling machinery. Our latest grant was £32,000 (US$51,750; €37,000).
The goat around the boy’s shoulders represents his family’s new livelihood after their pigs were culled by the Egyptian government
Project reference 11-819 (Help for Christians whose Pigs were Culled)
Barnabas Fund is financing the boring of a well on Farid’s property as well as creating a connecting gas line to a central gas line near his house. A total of £2,695 (US$4,358; €3,123) will cover all the costs and will enable Farid to focus on his ministry and outreach. Project reference 00-345 (Victims of Violence Fund)
Pakistan: Long-term Care for Flood Victims The floods that ruined the lives of so many people in Pakistan in August this year have left many Christians completely dependent on help and support from outside. Having assisted with emergency aid at the beginning of the floods, Barnabas is now helping with long-term needs, such as the repair and rebuilding of Christian’s homes. For example, one recent grant of £19,806 (US$32,019; €22,947) paid for 15 new houses to be built, and another grant of £11,530 (US$18,638; €13,354) for renovating 31 houses severely damaged by the floods. A Christian whose house was repaired with aid from Barnabas Fund said, “Prior to the reconstruction of the house we were extremely worried at how to restore our devastated lives. Thanks to our Barnabas Fund friends, we are able to live a more dignified and respectable life.” Rebuilding their houses themselves is almost an impossible task. A homeless Christian told us, “On my present salary, even in 50 years, I can’t rebuild my house.” We are also sponsoring 1,000 Christian families who have been affected by the floods to provide their food needs while they reestablish their lives and livelihoods. Every family receives a monthly food package with basic foods to support them. Sponsors are still
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needed to join this programme and support a family for just £30 (US$45; €35) per month. A photo and some details of the sponsored family are provided to regular donors as well as a twice-yearly newsletter about the programme. Barnabas Fund is also helping the victims in other innovative ways. Our coordinator for South Asia provided a workshop on disaster risk reduction to 13 local partners from four different areas. This training enables our partners better to prepare themselves for future disasters and also plan a more durable reconstruction. For example, they are now looking to rebuild houses on higher ground where they are less vulnerable to flooding.
Donors who sponsor a family like this in Pakistan with monthly food packages receive details about the family they are helping
Another unusual need concerned two families with daughters who were about to get married. But the floods completely destroyed the furniture and bedding that the future brides would have used as dowries. Without them, according to the local culture, the weddings cannot take place. A grant of £1,488 (US$1,724; €2,406) was provided so that new furniture and bedding could be bought. Project references 00-634 (Disaster Relief Fund) 41-919 (Sponsoring a Pakistani Christian flood victim family)
Local partners working in the flood-affected areas in Pakistan attend a workshop on disaster risk reduction
Indonesia: Church-planters in Java In the past year, 38 church planters have started churches in remote, rural areas of Java, where the majority of people are Muslim. Church growth is slow due to resistance from the Muslims, but the pastors are persevering in their work. The villages and hamlets in which they work are generally very poor, and unemployment is high. Because of this, the new believers in their
Pastor Y. and his wife decorate wedding dresses as a way to earn money to support their church-planting ministry. Barnabas is providing the rest of their support, until their church has grown large enough to support them
churches can contribute only modest amounts in weekly offerings and monthly tithes. The church-planting pastors are encouraged to develop sidelines to generate income. Pastor Y. and his wife and son, for example, receive a weekly offering of only 50 pence (US$0.60; €0.80) from the congregation. He supplements their living by collecting grass and selling it as cattle fodder. Together with his wife, he also decorates wedding dresses. A recent grant of £6,731 (US$10,884; €7,797) will help support the 38 pastors for another year. A further grant of £500 (US$800; €600) will provide for their medical expenses. And still another grant of £2,617 (US$4,231; €3,302) will be used to renovate three church buildings that are in urgent need of repair. One church, for example, is no more than a hut, and the pastor and his wife have to sleep behind the pulpit. Project reference 22-828
Nigeria: Aid for Victims of Anti-Christian Riots Large-scale anti-Christian rioting is an alltoo-frequent event in certain parts of Nigeria, and 2010 saw an unprecedented number of such incidents. Barnabas sent aid to the victims in a number of places, including two grants totalling £6,400 (US$10,300; €7,500) to help after severe rioting in and around Jos, Plateau State. Arson had left many of the victims homeless after the riots. They received emergency supplies such as mattresses, blankets, clothing, soap, vegetable oil, and bags of corn, rice and beans. Because many of the victims are farmers and their machinery was lost during the looting, Barnabas also provided farming machinery so that they could continue producing food. Two new water pumps which had been destroyed by the fires were installed for use by the community. A local partner told us that the donations greatly “encouraged the traditional leaders
Indonesia: Help for Christians in Triple Disaster In the evening of 25 October 2010 an undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit the coast of the small and remote Mentawai islands just west of Sumatra, whose population is mainly Christian. Many houses and at least five schools and six churches were damaged or destroyed. A week later, Mount Merapi, a volcanic mountain on Java, started spewing blistering gas over the area nearby. Hundreds of people died in the triple disaster and thousands more were displaced. Christians on the Mentawai islands feared that aid would be slow to arrive and that the disaster would be used as an opportunity to increase the Islamic presence there, as has happened in other Christian-majority parts of Indonesia after some natural disasters. Barnabas sent immediate aid to Mentawai through Christians in nearby Sumatra, who provided the stricken islanders with medicine, food and clothing. Project reference 00-634 (Disaster Relief Fund)
and the recipients. They were glad that, though the state government and other politicians took little notice of their plight, the body of Christ thought of them and acted in goodwill towards them.” Project reference 39-772
Equipment for two new water pumps enabled local farmers to harvest their fields after their original pumps had been damaged during anti-Christian riots. Clothing was also distributed
Christians from Sumatra bringing food to their brothers and sisters in the predominantly Christian Mentawai islands. (Source: IFGF GISI Mentawai Relief Team)
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Shah Taj (14), a Pakistani Christian, was kidnapped at gunpoint by three Muslim men in December 2008. She was raped and forced to sign a blank piece of paper. On it the men later wrote a statement that she had embraced Islam of her own free will and was “happily married” to the man who had held the gun while she was kidnapped. She was held prisoner at an unknown location for two months but was eventually rescued when she managed to get a message to her mother. Christian girls and women are greatly despised in Muslim countries. In their own cultures, Muslim women are treated as inferior to men1 and Christians are harassed and persecuted as members of a minority faith in Muslim countries, so a Christian woman in this context is likely to suffer doubly harsh treatment. Christians are treated as second-class citizens according to the principle of dhimmitude, which grants fewer rights to Christians and Jews. In addition, Muslims often equate Christianity with what they perceive to be the immorality of the Western world. The argument runs that the immoral Western society is “Christian” so local Christians must also be immoral. Some Muslim men therefore think they are justified in attacking Christian women and girls because of the “lax morals” among Christians. Worse still, Christian women are often easy to identify, either because they do not dress in an Islamic way or sometimes because they are a different ethnic type from the Muslim majority; for example the Christians of Iraq, as ethnic Assyrians, are often much fairer-skinned than the Muslims, who are Arabs. 1
forced into marriages with Muslim men. The global number of forced conversions to Islam per year is unknown, though it is definitely more than the number of cases reported in national media. (The lack of data shows the authorities’ lack of interest in the problem.)
“I hate what has happened to me,” says Shah Taj (right), who was kidnapped, raped and forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man in Pakistan in December 2008 In Islamic culture, the all-important honour of a family is held to reside chiefly in its women. So someone may retaliate against a man if he has a grudge by dishonouring a female relative, for example, by raping her. This is another reason why Christian women suffer under Islam. In the case of Shah Taj, described above, her kidnapping and rape were a form of revenge following a disagreement between her father and the Muslim men. Islam considers that the religion of a family is set by the husband and father. In many African countries it is reported that Islam is being deliberately spread by a campaign of Muslim men marrying Christian women. Some are even paid a reward for doing so, and extra if they manage to marry a pastor’s daughter.
In Pakistan and Egypt violent assaults by Muslim men on Christian girls and women are frequent and increasing and their suffering goes largely unreported. Christian girls are being kidnapped, beaten, raped, forced to recite the Muslim creed (thus, in Muslim opinion, converting to Islam) and
In Pakistan, marriages of Christian girls to Muslims as a result of forced conversions are on the rise. Christian sisters Parvisha (18) and Sanam (14) were abducted in November 2008 by a Muslim man who promised them free training and jobs in his beauty salon. But instead the girls were repeatedly raped by their abductor and other Muslims, forced to convert to Islam and given new Islamic names. After being rescued the girls declared in front of a magistrate that they wished to live and die in their own faith, Christianity. In Egpyt, Zeenahom Nady Adly, 19, was abducted by two Muslim men as she walked to the shops in her small village near Samalut in June 2010. The men sprayed a substance in her face to make her lose consciousness and when she awoke two hours later she found
Christian women share a meal together at a conference for Christian converts from a Muslim background in Central Asia
Islam teaches that the woman’s place is in the home and that she is always under the protection of a male relative. Although a number of verses in the Qur’an teach that men and women are equal, this theoretical equality is not seen in practice. Traditionally, women in Islam are viewed as “weak, inferior, inherently evil, intellectually incapable and spiritually lacking”. (Rosemary Sookhdeo, Secrets behind the Burqa. USA: Isaac Publishing, 2008, p37.)
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Christian girls in Kenya sit outside the Rescue Home supported by Barnabas Fund herself at the Islamic Sharia Association, facing a Muslim leader who tried to intimidate her and force her to convert to Islam. A Christian girl who has been abducted and forced to marry a Muslim man faces a virtually hopeless future, held captive by a family who may treat her as nothing more than a slave. In Pakistan and Egypt, once all the paperwork is finalised for the conversion and marriage, her whole identity is changed. She receives an Islamic name and her Christian religious status is removed from her identity card. Governments, local authorities and police often turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of Christian women. This is the case in Egypt, where the police do little to help in cases of abduction of Christian girls and women. Zeenahom (mentioned above) was, however, one of the fortunate ones. Her family demonstrated outside the police headquarters demanding her return and compelling the security forces to intervene and return the girl to her family. For many Christian women this will not happen. The same problem occurs in Pakistan. In February 2009 Ambreen, a 13-year-old Christian girl from a poor family, was kidnapped as she put out the rubbish in her village in the Sangla Hill region, Punjab province. She was taken to a nearby farmhouse by her abductors, where she was
gang-raped at gunpoint by five Islamic extremists. When she was kidnapped, she was told by her captors, “We will kill your parents if you tell them this.” Following her rescue, a case was registered against the alleged rapists, but despite eyewitness accounts and medical evidence indicating guilt, police declared the men innocent of rape.
Mothers who are converts from Islam to Christianity can face an even more heartbreaking trial as they find their children being used in an attempt to convert them back. In December 2008 Martha Samuel, an Egyptian convert, was detained and beaten at Cairo airport as she tried to emigrate with her family. Emmanuel, aged 4, and his younger brother Carlos (2) witnessed their mother being stripped and kicked, and the boys were deprived of food to pressure her into returning to Islam. The judge, who tried her case, imprisoning her for a month, told her that if he had a knife he would kill her for leaving Islam.
In Islamic society, sharia (Islamic law) teaches that women are of less worth than men. Sharia includes strict rules about women’s clothing, leaving Christian women in those societies particularly vulnerable. Sometimes Christian women are attacked,
even having acid thrown at them, or arrested if they fail to follow the laws. Silva Kashi, aged 16, was arrested by police in December 2009 for wearing a knee-length skirt while walking near her home in Muslim-majority Khartoum, Sudan. She was immediately presented before a judge, who sentenced her to 50 lashes. Silva is originally from the South of Sudan, which is Christian-majority, and the skirt and blouse she was wearing were normal for Southern Sudanese women. But sharia is in force in North Sudan, and its regulations are applied to Christians as well as Muslims. Although the law states that under-18s should not be lashed, Silva’s parents were not even aware that their daughter had been arrested until after the punishment had taken place. Sharia also forbids marriage between a Muslim woman and a Christian man. A female Christian convert from Islam who wants to marry a Christian man from a Christian background may find that this is not allowed if she lives in a country where her new faith is not recognised. Egyptian convert Raheal was arrested on her way to work because of her marriage to a Christian-background man in April 2010. As a convert she could not have her new faith officially recognised, and so the marriage was considered to be between a Muslim woman and a Christian man, and was thus forbidden by sharia. Five days after her arrest, she was handed over to her Muslim family, but she managed to escape two days later. She immediately went into hiding. BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Barnabas Fund seeks to serve our persecuted Christian sisters in countries where they are targeted because of their faith and their gender. Many are very poor and have had little opportunity for education. We assist with programmes to educate women through literacy classes, health courses and income-generation projects. In Pakistan, we provided funding for two female doctors to visit the Christian communities weekly to discuss women’s health issues, give medical checkups and prescribe medicine. In East Africa, Barnabas has provided accommodation for Christian women from an Islamic background with nowhere else to live, whilst giving them discipling in their new faith and training in tailoring, computing and English language to enable them to support themselves. We have supported Christian women in prison in North Sudan where many of the women were imprisoned for breaking sharia dress codes. Barnabas has also funded camps and conferences in Cameroon and Kyrgyzstan for Christian girls and women to meet together for worship and fellowship. In the Arab world,
Barnabas funded a women’s camp in Cameroon to give Christian women the chance to meet for fellowship and worship
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one Barnabas project provided training for young Christian women from very deprived backgrounds who had finished school, to help them prepare for their adult responsibilities. Below are some of Barnabas Fund’s current projects which specifically help Christian women and girls: n Pakistan: Women’s refuge for Christian girls and women. (Project reference 41465) n Uganda: Supporting the Mothers Union Training Centre and Guest House which is currently being built in an Islamic part of the country to train vulnerable women, girls and boys with a view to employment and self-sufficiency. (Project reference 56-909) n Kenya: Cana Girls Rescue Home. Christian women also need protection in African
countries where they are under pressure from African traditional religious beliefs and practices. Barnabas Fund financed the construction of a refuge centre for around 50 Christian girls and young women, and we continue to assist with its running costs. (Project reference 25663) n Niger: This project provides goats and sheep for needy Christians to help them support their families. A number of the local churches we work through select only women to receive the livestock. (Project reference 38-929) n Central Asia: This project helps to support “Jamilya”, a widow who is sharing the Gospel amongst women in her homeland. She is herself a convert from Islam and her husband was murdered by Islamists. (Project reference XX-861)
Will you support our Christian sisters in contexts where they are treated as second-class citizens through your prayers and your generous gifts?
Beaten and Bruised but Standing Strong in Christ Egyptian lawyer and convert from Islam Nagla Al-Imam was detained, interrogated and beaten by security personnel after a peaceful demonstration of her Christian faith and against Egypt’s lack of religious freedom in July 2010.
Mrs Al-Imam was standing with her children in front of a cathedral when two men called her name. “We need you for a few seconds,” they said. Feeling suspicious, she asked a fellow Christian to take her children to their own church. She was taken to an office and made to wait four hours before her interrogation began. Below she describes her treatment at the hands of the interrogator:
’t you you making trouble for us? Don He said, “Yes my lady, why are I am and ng, elli trav e restrained me from want to be safe?” I said, “You hav the of d hol e , “Yes.” Then he went to tak a human rights’ activist.” He said neck] and asked, “Who is this?” cross [on a chain around Nagla’s
worth.” He the cross, for you don’t know its I told him, “Take your hands off und my aro it held the chain and tightened said, “No, I know its worth.” He in, or to hurt was threatening to cut the cha neck. He was showing that he touch me, I I answered him. I said, “If you my neck, or do anything. Then real man, hit me.” will react severely. If you are a g my hair, he complete the sentence. Holdin He did not give me a chance to n once, and k. He slapped my face more tha bashed my face against the des ding from blee was my arm. By this time I punched me in the ribs, and on the side of my mouth.
.” He said, documentation, if you have any I told him, “Proceed with your s is just Thi . this n. I am just telling you “I don’t have any documentatio have not you be safe, you will receive what having fun. If you don’t want to me in t I could not expect? Will you put expected.” I said, “What is it tha converts in jail. You will kill me? So many jail? So many other converts are ere I will be am not afraid because I know wh have been killed.” I told him, “I g? goin do not know where will you be going, but what about you, who
Mrs Al-Imam was eventually released and later reflected on her ordeal: “My ribs and my body were hurting, my neck and my shoulders... But my real hurt was not the [physical] pain. My real hurt was that there was no real reason for them to do this. There is no safety – human safety, worldly safety – apart from the true safety I found with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am without work; threatened to be deregistered; without an income; without family. I have no one but enemies. I felt this was God’s discipline: He was teaching me what it means to be humble; what it means that the Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace; what it means to focus my sight on Christ alone, and not to depend on human hands.”
Following the incident, Mrs Al-Imam announced on an Arabic Christian TV website that she would stand up for the human rights of converts from Islam and would not leave her homeland. She sang a Christian song with her two children, asking Christ to strengthen them through their time of persecution. The bruises were clearly visible on her face and she could barely open her mouth to sing. This broadcast was immediately followed by fatwas calling for her death. Soon after this, Mrs Al-Imam was kidnapped and beaten by people in burqas and abandoned, unconscious, in the street. At the time of writing, she is in hiding, from where she continues to broadcast and testify to the Lord Jesus on an Arabic television channel. BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
Resources In this issue we feature a new book by Rosemary Sookhdeo on how to reach Muslims for Christ, and our Barnabas Fund year journal.
Breaking Through the Barriers: Leading Muslims to Christ Rosemary Sookhdeo Would you like to reach your Muslim friends and neighbours for Christ? If so, you will share your faith most effectively if you know something about what they believe, and also about how they expect you to relate to them. Rosemary Sookhdeo has provided this accessible introduction to help you get informed. In it she lifts the veil on Muslim culture, practices and faith, and identifies the points of contact that will help Muslims respond to the Christian Gospel. Part I explains the basics of Muslim culture and how it differs from Western culture, and outlines the attitudes and responses that should shape our outreach to Muslims. It covers such issues as what we should do when we invite a Muslim friend for a meal, what type of gift to bring on various occasions, and how to relate to different members of a Muslim family. It also explains how to lead a Muslim to faith in Christ. Part II sets out some of the central beliefs of Islam and also its key practices, such as
prayer, fasting and giving. We often overlook the place of spiritual conflict in evangelism: another chapter describes how it can affect our outreach to Muslims, and tells us how to pray and what to do to protect ourselves. The final sections outline various barriers that hinder Muslims from coming to Christ and the main differences between Islam and Christianity, answering such questions as: n Is the Biblical God the same as Allah? n Is the Muslim Jesus, Isa, the same as the Jesus we know in the Gospels? n How do Muslims view heaven and hell? n What part does the second coming of Jesus play in Muslim thinking? This helpful book will guide us safely through the challenges of Muslim evangelism and enable us to be good witnesses for Christ. Isaac Publishing, paperback, 160 pp, offer price £5.00 plus £2.00 postage (RRP £8.99)
Now in stock!
My Devotional Journal: A spiritual journey of prayer and encouragement with God’s suffering people Patrick Sookhdeo This Barnabas Fund year journal is an inspiring collection of short testimonies, poems and prayers from Christians around the world. It also includes uplifting Bible verses and lined pages for you to record your own thoughts and reflections throughout the months.
My Devotional Journal takes us on a journey with God’s suffering people, exploring themes such as loss, forgiveness and the cost of discipleship. Their stories demonstrate how Christians can experience God’s peace and presence as
sources of great joy and deep comfort in the midst of “trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), and find God to be the protective Father who cares and provides for His people. This book can both inspire you in your own Christian journey and be a great present for your Christian friends. The pages begin from January, but you can start using it at any time. Isaac Publishing, casebound, 96pp, offer price £5.00 + £2.00 postage (RRP £7.99)
To order either of these books, please visit www.barnabasfund.org/shop. Alternatively please contact your nearest Barnabas office (addresses on back cover). Cheques for the UK should be made payable to “Barnabas Books”. 10
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Introduction In August 2010 Harrow Council in North-West London introduced halal-only menus at its 52 state primary schools. The Arabic word halal means “permitted”, and halal food is anything that Islamic sharia law allows to be eaten. The Muslim population in Harrow is not very large: according to the 2001 census only 7 per cent is Muslim. But the dietary principles of this small religious group are now to influence the diet of primary-school children of all faiths and none, and without the consent of their parents.
The halal controversy
The halal controversy
This incident is one of many that have raised the issue of the place of halal food and other halal products in Western societies. Its increasingly extensive use by retail outlets and restaurants, often without the approval or even the knowledge of customers, has caused widespread disquiet. Consumers are being denied the possibility of choice because they are not given the necessary information to make a decision. The practice of slaughtering animals by halal methods has also been called into question on ethical grounds. There are four principal reasons why many Christians and others are concerned about the increased presence of halal products: n The denial of choice to consumers, unless food is labelled and alternatives provided, and following from this: n The commitment of many Muslims to Islamic mission (dawa) and the Islamisation of their non-Muslim host societies, which includes imposing Islamic practices and Islamic law on non-Muslims. Halal food is an important example of this. n The unnecessary suffering to animals involved in halal-compliant methods of slaughter. n For Christians in particular, the Biblical teaching on the eating of foods associated with non-Christian religious practice. (Space prevents us from examining this issue further here.)
Sharia and the halal / haram system Halal food laws in Islam are part of a much wider system in sharia law. In the Muslim worldview they are based on Allah’s direct revelation in the Qur’an and sunna1, part of his sovereign will that cannot be changed by humans. Halal (permitted, lawful) and haram (forbidden, unlawful) represent a god-given, identity mark of Allah’s pure community. These rules must be kept to ensure the pleasure of Allah and due rewards for the believers who keep them. The realm of halal and haram extends beyond food and clothing to all matters relating to human life, both individual and communal. All beings and things are divided into pure and impure categories. These include foods, all goods and services, entertainments, finance and commerce, tourism, lifestyles and new technologies. The quest for purity and the fear of pollution are very strong motivators in Islam. 1
This wide range of applications gives the halal and haram rules a very important economic role in all Islamic societies. Institutions have to be established to control and license goods and services to ensure their sharia compliance. Religious specialists in the field of halal and haram gain positions of power and influence, as they can offer or withhold licences and so ensure or endanger the survival of businesses. This process can sometimes lead to corruption. Several criteria must be met before products can be certified as halal: n Halal meat products must be produced from animals slaughtered according to Islamic law n Halal products must be free from any haram substance or ingredient, such as enzymes and emulsifiers made from pigs or from other haram sources n Halal products must be produced, manufactured and stored
The sunna is Muhammad’s way of life (sayings and behaviour), codified in the traditions (hadith). Muslims see the sunna as a model which they must follow. It is also one of the main sources of Islamic law (sharia)
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The halal controversy
Pull-out supplement using utensils, equipments and machines that have been cleansed according to Islamic law n Manufactured products should be free of contamination and must not come into contact with haram substances during their preparation, production and storage Islam requires that animals should be slaughtered in a way that ensures the draining of their blood before they are eaten. The Islamic method of slaughtering is to cut the animal’s throat, while it is alive, to enable the blood to run out and not congeal in its veins. At the same time the slaughterman proclaims in Arabic either the bismillah (in the name of Allah) or the shahada, the Muslim credal statement (there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger). The incision is made with a sharp blade, cutting the throat and oesophagus, the jugular vein and the carotid artery but leaving the spinal cord intact. Most Muslim slaughterers do not stun the animal first before slitting its throat, in the belief that drainage will be complete only if the animal is conscious. These rules are derived from the Quran: “O you who believe! Eat of the good and pure things We have provided you with, and render thanks to Allah if it is He alone Whom you really worship. He has forbidden you only (to eat carrion) that which dies of itself, the blood, the flesh of swine and that over (the sacrifice of) which the name of someone other than Allah has been invoked.” (Q 2:172-3) “And do not eat that on which Allah’s name has not been pronounced.” (Q 6:121) Muslims also argue that the halal / haram laws are scientifically proven to promote individual and societal health. They also stress the universal ethical value of halal products, arguing that because of the religious conditions imposed on their production, stringent controls are in place throughout. Halal can therefore, they say, be accepted as a trustworthy brand that ensures the safety, quality and humane treatment of animals. Halal is also claimed to guarantee just and fair business methods and to embody values of social justice and welfare.
Many Muslim scholars assert that the halal / haram rules are not just for Muslims, but for all human beings. Thus, they believe, halal and haram are part of dawa (Islamic mission): it is the duty of Muslims to spread their rules to non-Muslims. Religious, economic and political pressures combine to further the spread of the halal / haram system around the world. The architects of the current Islamic resurgence want to establish the global dominance of Islam. As large, international, non-Muslim companies adopt halal products, they introduce sharia into their structures, thus expanding its reach in the non-Muslim world. In several sub-Saharan African states with non-Muslim majorities most butchers and most of the meat trade has passed into BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
The population of Muslim states has outpaced the local food supply, forcing them to import foods from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and the USA. As the Muslim market became globally significant, Muslims demanded that producers and distributors provide certified halal products. The Muslim market represents one-fifth of the world’s total population (estimated at 1.2 billion people). The global halal market is potentially worth $2.3 trillion. Large Western multinationals are eager to tap into its vast potential, and many have started to introduce halal products into their ranges. Some have gone over to marketing only halal products to simplify their processes and cut costs. Hundreds of companies across the world are becoming sharia-compliant or halal-compliant, and much halal food is now produced and processed in non-Muslim countries under Muslim religious supervision and certification. This means that some slaughterman posts are open only to Muslim applicants.
Halal products have now spread into many non-food sectors, including cosmetics, tourism and holidays, clothing, stickers, rugs, greeting cards and logos and ring tones on mobile phones. The list is growing.
Halal products in Britain
Halal food is being introduced secretly to Britain. All over the country, schools, hospitals, pubs and sporting venues are serving halal meat, often without informing the public.
The process of Islamisation
Muslim hands. Halal foods are promoted as ethical alternatives for all people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Halal food is being introduced secretly to Britain. All over the country, schools, hospitals, pubs and sporting venues are serving halal meat, often without informing the public. It has also been alleged that some big supermarkets are selling unlabelled halal meat products. The British halal meat industry is expanding so fast that many more halal butchers are needed. A programme has been organised that could enable as many as 5,000 Pakistani butchers to obtain jobs in the British halal meat industry.
Non-Muslim halal producers It is estimated that currently some 90% of the world’s halal food market is supplied by non-Muslims. Major halal meat producers are found in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. The Middle East has become a major market for New Zealand meat exports. As a result New Zealand has become the largest exporter of halal-slaughtered sheep meat in the world and a significant exporter of halal beef. About 98% of lamb and sheep as well as 60% of cattle in New Zealand are halal-slaughtered, as companies find it easier and more cost-effective to shift their production processes to halal only. Halal meat production has become an essential part of New Zealand’s economy. New Zealand is also targeting countries with wealthy Muslim populations for inbound tourism. This has increased the demand for halal food in the local catering, hospitality and tourism
It is argued by Muslims that the absence of globally recognised halal certification bodies and standards poses a serious problem to the industry and that there is an urgent need to have clear standards that apply globally. There are calls to regulate the halal industry, harmonise halal certification rules and create binding, global halal standards to promote trade and speed up the certification process.
Implications While the halal / haram system has always been part of Muslim religious doctrine, it was usually applied only to Muslim populations. But in the context of Islamic resurgence and Islamist growth, the expansion of halal across the world is seen by many commentators as part of a global Islamisation project, designed to extend the reach of sharia in both Muslim and non-Muslim states and to restore the power of Islam worldwide. The economic interests of the large global industries seeking to penetrate the growing Muslim markets tend to encourage this Islamisation drive.
A certificate in a New Zealand restaurant window, approving all the ingredients used there as halal-compliant industries. People involved in these industries are being made aware of halal rules concerning food production and catering. In Australia, halal slaughter is carried out through the Australian Government Muslim Slaughter programme by government employees supervised by independent Islamic halal agencies.
Muslim food authorities Muslim and non-Muslim governments and public bodies have encouraged the formation of halal food certifying bodies to oversee the abattoirs and the slaughtering process and offer detailed guidelines on how to ensure food remains halal right through the various modern production, distribution and catering processes. Worldwide it is estimated that there are over 300 bodies offering global halal certification. Most of the bodies justify their demands to oversee the food industry and ensure that it meets the religious standards of the Muslim community by claiming that Islam is a total way of life that embraces all spheres of human activity.
Halal certifying agencies charge fees to companies to undertake audits of production facilities, inspect documentation on products and manufacturing, and issue halal product certificates. These fees are passed on to the customers in higher prices. In some countries there exist several independent and competing Muslim food councils, sometimes representing various streams of Islam. Different organisations often accuse their competitors of fraud or of not being Islamic enough, casting doubt on the validity of their certification. For example, in the UK there are at least two competing halal 2
The halal controversy
certification organisations: the Halal Food Authority (HFA) and the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC). The HFA allows the use of machines in the slaughtering process, while the HMC says that only animals slaughtered by hand are halal.
Many Christians are uneasy about buying halal food or other products because of its inseparable association with Islamic dawa. They see such purchases as advancing the cause of global Islam, and of Islamist radicalism in particular, and as putting themselves implicitly under the authority of Islamic sharia. For this reason they argue that halal products should not be forced on the non-Muslim community or sold without appropriate labelling. Christian farmers also do not want to be responsible for sacrificial slaughter of animals to Allah.
Cruelty to animals Many believe that halal slaughter is cruel. Western animal welfare groups consistently criticise Muslim halal slaughtering methods and call for their prohibition. They also criticise the stressful methods of restraint used in some halal slaughtering plants. The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) reported on Muslim slaughter practices in 2003: When a very large transverse incision is made across the neck a number of vital tissues are transected including: skin, muscle, trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins, major nerve trunks (e.g. vagus and phrenic nerves) plus numerous minor nerves. Such a drastic cut will inevitably trigger a barrage of sensory information to the brain in a sensible (conscious) animal. We are persuaded that such a massive injury would result in very significant pain and distress in the period before insensibility supervenes.2 The report concluded that killing animals without first stunning them causes unnecessary pain and suffering. It therefore recommended the government to pass legislation banning all religious slaughter of animals. The British animal welfare charity RSPCA also opposes halal slaughter on grounds of animal welfare, and it advocates clear labelling of halal products to inform the welfare-conscious consumer about the method of slaughter.
R eport on the Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing. London: Farm Animal Welfare Council FAWC, June 2003.
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The halal controversy
Pull-out supplement Animal welfare groups also insist that humane slaughter must involve pre-stunning, which renders the animal unconscious, before the killing. Animal-cruelty regulations throughout Europe say that livestock must be stunned before slaughter, but Britain and most countries allow exemptions on religious grounds for Muslim (and Jewish) religious slaughter practices. Several states have however forbidden these exclusions on the grounds that prestunning is more welfare-friendly. (It should be noted that Muslims do not agree among themselves over whether an animal needs to be conscious when killed for its meat to be halal.)
Christians should also object to having to pay for certification agency fees and the other extra costs involved in the halal processes and industries. These should be borne exclusively by Muslims. We should also protest against the greed of businessmen who withhold choice from most of the worldâ€™s population because of their eagerness to tap into the lucrative global Muslim market.
Implications Many Christians believe the method of killing without stunning to be cruel and therefore contrary to the Biblical creation mandate. Some of them endorse the calls from animal welfare organisations for the banning of halal slaughtering practices. Others defend the current exemptions for ritual slaughter on grounds of religious freedom, while not wanting themselves to eat meat from animals that were killed without first being stunned. However, the prescription of ritual slaughter in the Old Testament leads other Christians to question the animal welfare argument against halal killing.
The freedom of Muslim people to follow their own religious practices should be affirmed. But the freedom of non-Muslims not to follow Muslim practices should also be protected.
Recommendations While Christians and other non-Muslims should argue for the right of Muslims to observe their religious rules in matters of halal food and other products within their own community, they must protest at the Islamisation project that seeks to impose these rules and products on all nonMuslims, expand the reach of sharia, advance Muslim economic interests and dominate world trade in the food and related industries. The domination of sharia often results in anti-Christian discrimination and persecution and hinders Christian mission. Christians should therefore be committed to the struggle against Islamist ideology, the Islamisation process and the extension of sharia to include non-Muslims, including the spread of the halal system. If we do nothing, Muslims will believe that we do not mind about these things.
Regarding the spread of halal to many commercial outlets, and halal foodâ€™s being the only kind offered to non-Muslims in schools and other government and public institutions, Christians should object when there is no choice for non-Muslims. We must challenge the view that the majority must conform to the practices of a minority. In the public square, Christians and other non-Muslims ought to support the following demands: n G overnments should not legislate regarding the standards required for halal products, thus endorsing them by implication. n A ll halal products should be clearly labelled as such. n Government and public institutions should offer halal products only as a choice. Halal should never be the only option available there.
Due weight should be given to the argument, on grounds of religious liberty, that halal slaughter should not be prohibited by law, and different views are held among Christians (and others) regarding its alleged cruelty. Even so, however, the case against the practice on the basis of animal welfare is very compelling, and suggests that halal slaughter should be modified or banned by government legislation. Moreover, the aversion of many Christians to eating meat from animals that have been slaughtered inhumanely is another reason to insist on the provision of choice and the labelling of halal products. The freedom of Muslim people to follow their own religious practices should be affirmed. But the freedom of non-Muslims not to follow Muslim practices should also be protected.
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Halal Awareness Campaign Operation Nehemiah has received an encouraging response from supporters since we launched our Halal Awareness Campaign in October. Further investigations have revealed the extent of the problem. Many UK supermarkets, restaurants and schools are serving meat that has been sacrificially slaughtered, prepared and transported in accordance with sharia (Islamic law), often without telling the public. Pressure is now mounting on these outlets and institutions to let consumers know what they are eating. We do not object to Muslims eating halal food. But we believe that Christians and other non-Muslims should have the freedom to make an informed choice about whether or not to eat it. We are therefore asking that halal food should always be labelled as such, and that non-halal alternatives should always be available to consumers. There are several reasons why Christians and others may not want to eat halal food:
n The spread of halal is part of the commitment of many Muslims to Islamic mission (dawa) and the Islamisation of their non-Muslim host societies, which includes the imposition of Islamic practices on non-Muslims. n Halal-compliant methods of slaughter raise questions relating to animal cruelty, as many Muslims believe that animals must not be stunned before killing (although others disagree). n The eating of foods associated with nonChristian religious practices and its spiritual and social effects within the Christian community are also a concern for many Christians. An article, “The Halal Controversy” (http://barnabasfund.org/spread-of-halal ) is
Focus on Education In October, 35 Church of England schools in Blackburn received Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) “Books for Schools” packs as part of a project to reach 23,000 primary schools. The packs, which contain £250 worth of books and Islamic items, are carefully designed to appeal to young children. In an email to its supporters, the MCB describes this as a dawa project. These and similar reports, which include compulsory visits to mosques and the building of an RE classroom facing Mecca, raise serious questions about the elevating of Islam and sidelining of Christianity in education. The former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, writing in Standpoint magazine, has urged Education Secretary
Michael Gove to restore the teaching of Christianity in Britain’s schools. He says that Christianity was the most significant link in the story of Britain. Operation Nehemiah wants to appeal to our supporters to provide us with information about what is being taught in primary schools about Christianity and Islam. We are also planning to launch a school pack about Christianity later in 2011, which will be available for supporters to sponsor and even donate as a gift to local schools. We hope that it will be a transforming and treasured investment for them. Please pray that God will give us His wisdom for this developing project.
available on the Operation Nehemiah section of our website (www.barnabasfund.org/nehemiah) and explains the background and serious implications of the spread of halal products. An abridged version has been included as a pull-out in this magazine. Operation Nehemiah would like to thank those supporters who have made enquiries or complained to local suppliers. Please visit the Operation Nehemiah section of the Barnabas Fund web site to participate in the Halal Campaign and register your support for proper labelling and the freedom to choose. To receive further updates about the halal campaign, please contact Operation Nehemiah at ON@barnabasfund.org.
“Greater Understanding of Islam” seminars Operation Nehemiah is planning a series of training seminars across Britain in 2011 to provide churches with a greater understanding of Islam and training in outreach to Muslims and care for converts. Topics will include sharia, why women convert to Islam, and theological differences between Christianity and Islam. Any church or group of churches that would like to host a seminar is invited to contact Operation Nehemiah.
Operation Nehemiah Updates If you would like to receive Operation Nehemiah news and prayer updates, please email ON@barnabasfund.org to register your interest in the campaign, or phone 01672 564938. Regular updates are also available on the Operation Nehemiah section of the website www.barnabasfund.org/nehemiah.
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Egypt Egypt has a mixed reputation in the Bible. On the one hand it is a place of refuge, for Jacob and his family in a time of famine, and for the infant Christ and His family fleeing from Herod. But on the other hand it is the place of Israel’s enslavement, from where God liberates them in the Exodus, and where He several times forbids them to return. It stands both for God’s gracious provision for His people, and for their oppression and persecution by their enemies. Egypt continues to have this mixed reputation today. It is home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, whose origins lie in the first Christian centuries. Numerically and historically the Church is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to His people. But the country also has a dismal record of anti-Christian hostility, and it is ranked among the world’s worst persecutors of converts from Islam.
No safety in numbers
Restrictions on buildings
Estimates of the size of the Christian population in Egypt vary between 8 and 12 per cent, or about six to ten million people. The early Church flourished in Egypt, and many of today’s Christians are descended from these early believers. But in AD 651 the land was invaded by Arab Muslims. The dominance of Islam was quickly established, and the Christians were reduced to the status of second-class citizens. Today the great majority of the population are Sunni Muslims, and despite their numbers the Christians are an oppressed minority.
One major area in which Christians find themselves severely restricted is the construction and repair of church buildings. All applications for new buildings must be approved by the President in person. No church building may be put up within 100 metres of a mosque, and the approval of the neighbouring Muslim community must be secured before a permit can be granted. The expansion or rebuilding of existing churches require the consent of a Provincial Governor, and not even the smallest of repairs, such as the replacement of a broken window, can be made without local authority agreement.
The Egyptian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but it also specifies that sharia (Islamic law) is the principal source of the country’s legislation. In 1980 Islam was declared to be the state religion. More recently Egyptian courts have ruled that religious freedom does not extend to Muslim citizens who want to convert to another religion, and that it is restricted by the principles of Islam. In 2010 the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, a government body, stated that Egypt is an Islamic state where “the citizenship rights of nonMuslims were conditional to their abiding by the Islamic identity of the State”. 12
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These restrictions make the process of obtaining permits long, slow and often futile. The Muslim community is generally hostile to the construction of Christian places of worship: on many occasions Muslim mobs have attacked Christians because of information or rumours about work on
church buildings (see p14). Many local officials delay the application process, demanding documents from the Christians that are almost impossible to obtain, and the security forces may prevent them from using any permits that are given. Some church properties have even been destroyed by the authorities. As a result there are not nearly enough church buildings in Egypt to meet the needs of the Christian community, so Christians have sometimes to resort to meeting in private buildings or homes. But because these buildings are unlicensed places of worship, the churches are sometimes closed down by the local authorities.
Although the Church in Egypt is large and has a long history, it faces severe hostility from the country’s Muslim majority
Discrimination and poverty Christians in Egypt have to endure another, more indirect limitation of their freedom, in the form of serious discrimination in many areas of life. For example, they are largely excluded from government jobs, highranking positions in the military and security services, and positions in the state universities. They are rarely nominated to stand in elections, and there are very few Christian members of the People’s Assembly. Only a handful of Christians hold senior political office. The longstanding contempt of most Egyptian Muslims for their Christian neighbours has been exacerbated in recent decades by the political instability of the wider region. Although there used to be many prosperous Egyptian Christians, most of them have emigrated because of anti-
Christian pressure and hostility. The majority of the Christians who remain in Egypt live in extreme poverty, and thousands are in “garbage villages”, where they earn a living sorting household rubbish. Two years ago many of them lost a major part of their livelihood when the government culled their pigs on the pretext of restricting the spread of swine flu.
Persecution of converts Egyptian converts from Islam to Christianity are particularly vulnerable to hostility from the government and wider society. There is no law against leaving Islam, but converts usually face harassment and severe pressure, and sometimes even threats to their lives. Some have been detained and pressured to return to Islam, and have suffered physical abuse while in custody.
It is not possible for converts to Christianity to register their change of faith officially or to alter the religion listed on their identity cards. Converts whose religion is still listed as Islam face difficulties in marriage, These twin boys, wh inheritance, and even committed Christi o are ans, had in attending church. the religion on their birth Attempts in the courts certificates changed from Christianity to Islam when by converts to have their father converted. They their conversions have been denied the right formally recognised to have it changed back or their ID cards altered have repeatedly failed. (By contrast, if a Christian converts to Islam their ID card is promptly changed to show that they are now Muslim.) When one or both Muslim parents convert to Christianity, their children are still considered to be Muslims. But when a Christian parent converts to Islam, the children are reckoned to follow his or her Islamic faith, and the religion on their birth certificates can be changed to Islam. In March 2010 a court rejected a lawsuit from a Christian mother asking for the Christian identity of her twin sons, whose father converted to Islam, to be reinstated before their identity cards were due to be issued at the age of 16. This decision was made despite the fact that the boys are firm believers in Christ.
ONE CONVERT’S STORY
Many of Egypt’s Christians are very poor and have to earn a living sorting rubbish in “garbage cities”
Maher el-Gohary is a convert from Islam to Christianity, and in May 2009 he tried to have the religion on his ID card changed to reflect his faith. He and his daughter Dina, also a Christian, were forced into hiding, and they had to move repeatedly to avoid detection. In June 2009 a court refused his request, and when elGohary and his daughter attempted to leave the country, they were stopped at the airport and their passports were confiscated. More than one attempt has been made on Maher’s life, and Dina has been attacked with acid.
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Anti-Christian violence Recent years have witnessed an alarming surge in brutal attacks on Christian individuals and communities in Egypt. A study by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights found that in the two years to January 2010 there were at least 53 incidents of sectarian hostility or tension, in 17 of Egypt’s 29 governorates. The acts of violence, which generally occur in more remote or rural areas, take various forms and arise from various causes. Some of the most serious are acts of “collective retribution”, when Muslims seek revenge against all Christians in an area for the action of one Christian. Christians also risk attack
when they meet for worship or prayer, try to convert a building into a church, or construct a new building. Buildings themselves may also be targeted. Some incidents of premeditated murder have been reported. One specific and extremely distressing form of anti-Christian violence is the abduction and rape of Christian girls, their enforced conversion to Islam, and their marriage to Muslim men. For example, within the space of a few weeks 15-year-old Marian Bishay was kidnapped on her way to collect dinner for her family from the local restaurant, 50m from her home in Giza, and 19-year-old Amal Estephanos was abducted in broad daylight by a group of Muslims. Witnesses reported that Amal was drugged and bundled into a pickup truck with the assistance of local villagers. It appears that neither of the girls has ever been restored to their families.
RECENT INCIDENTS OF ANTICHRISTIAN VIOLENCE A Muslim mob attacked the town of Farshoot on 21 November 2009, prompted by rumours of sexual abuse against a Muslim girl by a Christian man. Up to 3,000 Muslims gathered outside the police headquarters in an attempt to kidnap and murder the man. The mob then looted, vandalised Christians in Farshoot were injured and burned Christian-owned shops and their properties destroyed by a and businesses and threw Christian Muslim mob families out of their homes. At least seven Christians were injured. On 6 January 2010, in the neighbouring town of Nag Hammadi, six Christian worshippers and a security guard were killed when three gunmen stormed a worship service. The church’s leader had previously been threatened because of his requests for compensation for the Christians of Farshoot.
The Egyptian authorities do very little to help the victims of anti-Christian attacks. The police are often slow to respond to reports of violence; they frequently seem unwilling to protect Christian properties or Christian people, and there are documented cases of security forces joining the attackers or arresting the victims. Normally little effort is made to arrest those responsible. Even when suspects are detained and their guilt is not in question, many cases never reach court. After major incidents the government pressures the Christian victims into “reconciliation”, supposedly as a way of easing tensions and resolving disputes. But the real goal of these sessions, Christians believe, is to persuade the Christian victims to withdraw their complaints against the Muslim attackers, thus preventing their prosecution. Offenders who are brought to court may receive very lenient sentences. In the meantime Christians can be illegally expelled from their homes in order to appease Muslims in the affected areas. The frequent failure to bring the perpetrators of anti-Christian violence to justice has created the impression, largely justified, that Muslims can attack and even murder Christians with impunity. Indeed, some Christians believe that the Egyptian government is now deliberately inciting Muslims against them, and using Islamist radicalism as a political weapon.
On 12 March 2010 hundreds of Christians were trapped inside a church in Marsa-Matruh for ten hours when thousands of Muslims attacked the building. Some of the crowd entered the church and assaulted the Christians, and they went on to burn property. Twenty-three Christians were injured. The pretext for the attack was the construction without permission of a wall around a plot of land owned by the church.
On 20 March 2010 a church in Luxor was surrounded by bulldozers and hundreds of police. The community centre was demolished and all the church’s land was taken over, apart from the church building itself. The authorities said that there were underground archaeological remains on the site, but the Christians saw this claim as a mere excuse for destroying their property.
A number of militant Islamist groups operate in Egypt, with the goal of turning it into an Islamic state under the rule of sharia law. They have secured a significant place in education and the media, and have launched many violent attacks. Some of these are against Christians, and the government’s failure adequately to counter Islamist activities and influence thus endangers the churches. But now Islamist leaders are
A Muslim motorcyclist beheaded one Christian and injured two other Christians on 16 September 2009. The murder victim, Abdo George Yonan, was stabbed nine times before being decapitated. The attacker then moved on to two neighbouring villages, where he severely injured a local shoemaker and assaulted a blacksmith.
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Country Profile also spreading unfounded accusations against them. In September 2010 Muslim anger was ignited when Egyptian Christians were accused in the media of supporting Israel and stockpiling weapons in preparation for waging war against Muslims. Tensions were also fuelled by rumours that Christians were kidnapping and torturing women who had converted to Islam. Numerous mass demonstrations involving thousands of Muslims took place against Christians, with the previously unknown group “Front of Islamic Egypt” promising them a “bloodbath”. The Egyptian authorities were accused of complicity for political reasons in the escalating crisis in light of forthcoming elections. Christian leaders suggested that the government was trying to use Islamist threats and violence as a means of channelling social discontent away from itself and on to the churches. Certainly it did little to quash the untrue reports or restrain the hostility of the demonstrators.
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD (MB) The Muslim Brotherhood, the first grassroots Islamist movement in modern times, was founded in Egypt in 1928. Its main goal is to establish an Islamic state based on sharia in Egypt and other Muslim countries. This would then be expanded to include non-Muslim countries and eventually to become a global Islamic Caliphate dominating the whole world. The MB believes that all governing systems opposed to Islamist ideology must be gradually infiltrated, abolished and replaced. It claims to work for its goals peacefully and within the law, and it won a substantial number of parliamentary seats in the 2005 elections. But it has also established a secret branch that uses violence against perceived enemies, and most of the radical Islamist terrorist organisations in the Arab world are offshoots from the MB.
Pray for Egypt’s Christians The growing strength of Islamism, added to the longstanding problems of restriction and discrimination, harassment and violence, places Egyptian Christians in a highly precarious position. They are also unable to
turn to the authorities for protection with any confidence of receiving it. Yet the Church remains faithful to Christ, and even considers martyrdom for His sake to be a great blessing. Please pray for our brothers and sisters, that the Lord will protect them from harm and give them courage and strength to stand firm in the face of hostility. Pray too that the harsh conditions they have to endure will be relieved.
BARNABAS FUND HELPING EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS Feeding and basic needs Many Christians in Upper Egypt live in severe poverty, and some children do not even know what an egg is. Barnabas Fund has given grants to help local Christians to supply the poorest Christians with food and other basic needs. (Project reference 11-220) Vocational training centres In a very poor area Barnabas is assisting the Church to establish a number of vocational training centres to help Christians learn skills by which they can support themselves and their families. The courses include training as car mechanics, electricians and carpenters and in IT skills. (Project reference 11-859) Livelihoods for Christian pig farmers In April 2009 many Christians lost their livelihood and an important source of protein when the Egyptian authorities ordered the slaughter of 300,000 pigs on the pretext of preventing swine flu. This unnecessary measure damaged only the Christian population, as Muslims do not eat pork or rear pigs. A local church in one “garbage village” is providing alternative ways for Christian families to support themselves, helped with funds from Barnabas. (Project reference 11-819) Desert reclamation and job training In an area of high unemployment, this project supported by Barnabas is reclaiming 80 acres of desert land for irrigation and farming. Between 80 and 100 Christian workers will receive job training and employment on the farm. The project will also provide food for the local Christian community and a source of income from the sale of produce. (Project reference 11-926)
This school was built with support from Barnabas to provide a Christian education for students aged 12-15
A project supported by Barnabas has supplied these goats to provide a livelihood for Christian farmers whose pigs were culled by the government
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IRAQ: CHURCH UNDER THREAT AFTER BLOODY SIEGE Fears for Iraq’s beleaguered Christian community have accelerated after a bloody siege at a Baghdad church left more than 50 dead and militants threatened further violence. The Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda front group, claimed responsibility for the attack and afterwards said that the “killing sword will not be lifted”. When a 48-hour deadline Mourners filled the streets for the funeral procession of those killed in for the release of Muslim women they the siege falsely claimed the Egyptian Church was holding captive expired (see Egypt article, stormed the building in an effort to free the page 17), the threat was extended to “all hostages. Dozens of worshippers, as well as Christian centres, organisations and security forces and attackers, died in the institutions, leaders and followers”. ensuing fighting, with scores more wounded. Among the victims were pregnant On Sunday 31 October armed militants Raghada al-Wafi, and Thar Abdallah, the entered the church in central Baghdad, church minister who had conducted her where around 100 people were taking part wedding ceremony. in an evening service, and immediately killed the church minister. The attackers It was the deadliest recorded attack against demanded the release of Al-Qaeda Iraq’s Christians, who have endured prisoners as well as the women in Egypt. repeated violence since the US-led invasion But negotiations failed, and security forces in 2003. Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee as a result of the repeated attacks; the number of Christians has fallen from 1.5 million in 1990 to perhaps as low as 400,000 today.
A door to the Baghdad church riddled with bullet holes
In the last edition of Barnabas Aid we reported that the Iraqi government had pledged to help exiled Christians return to their homeland. But the Iraqi Church could now be facing further haemorrhage as Christians are once again forced to consider seeking asylum elsewhere in light of the growing hostility.
TURKMENISTAN: PASTOR JAILED ON FALSE CHARGES A pastor in Turkmenistan has been jailed for four years on what his wife and church say are false accusations. Ilmurad Nurliev (45) was convicted on 21 October on charges of swindling, which they insist were fabricated as a punishment for his religious activity. He is expected to serve his sentence in a labour camp where, according to some claims, mind-altering drugs have been used. Worryingly the grandfather-of-two is diabetic, and his wife has not been allowed to see him or give him his medicines since he was arrested in August. The credibility of the prosecution witnesses – one of whom was apparently in jail when the authorities claimed she gave Pastor Nurliev money – has been strongly questioned. According to his wife, Maya Nurlieva, the court said that if Nurliev paid the money he is alleged to have swindled from people who came to his church, he might be eligible for prisoner amnesty. “But he’s not guilty,” she told Forum 18 News Service. Pastor Nurliev had previously been targeted by the authorities. He was put on the country’s exit blacklist without an official explanation. And the church he leads in Mary has been repeatedly denied registration since 2007.
ALGERIA: CHRISTIAN PAIR CLEARED OF OFFENDING ISLAM Two Christian men who were arrested in Algeria after they were seen eating lunch during Ramadan have been acquitted. Hocine Hocini and Salem Fellak were accused of offending Islam by breaking the rules of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting during daylight hours. The colleagues were arrested in
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August after eating on the building site where they worked in Kabylie, northern Algeria. They admitted they had been eating but said they had done it discreetly. A state prosecutor sought a three year prison sentence, but at their trial in October the judge threw the case out of court,
saying, “No article [of law] provided for a legal pursuit” against the men. A group of people who had gathered outside the courthouse applauded when they heard the verdict.
RUSSIA: THREE CHURCHES TORCHED Three churches were torched by arsonists in Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus region, where Islamists are fighting to establish a separate state ruled by sharia (Islamic law). The fires at churches in KarachayevoCherkessia republic all happened in the early hours of 1 November in what was described by a senior church leader as “well-orchestrated provocation”. He
added, “The intention is to destabilise inter-religious harmony, but they will not succeed.” One of the churches was almost completely gutted, but all three buildings were saved by the immediate intervention of church members who, after alerting the fire brigade, began fighting the flames themselves. No one was hurt in the attacks.
INDONESIA: CHRISTIANS AT CENTRE OF TRIPLE DISASTER Mainly Christian islands were at the heart of a three-fold disaster of earthquake, tsunami and volcanic eruption that killed hundreds and left thousands homeless in Indonesia. A 7.7 magnitude undersea earthquake triggered the three-metre high tsunami, which pounded the Mentawai Islands, off the coast of West Sumatra, on 25 October. The following day Mount Merapi on Java erupted, and afterwards continued to spew out clouds of ash and gas. The combined death toll reached 450, while tens of thousands of people became refugees as homes were destroyed. Barnabas Fund sent immediate financial aid for the provision of food, clothing and
medicine in Mentawai, a collection of small islands that are predominantly Christian. Our partners from churches in Padang, West Sumatra, worked with their Mentawai counterparts to co-ordinate relief efforts. Supplies were gathered by the Padang churches and taken by boat to the islands, with brave volunteers risking their own safety in dangerous conditions to help their brothers and sisters. Around 500 homes were destroyed, with a further 200 damaged. Six church buildings, five schools, six government buildings, seven bridges and an eight-kilometre stretch of road were also damaged or destroyed. The rescue and relief operation was expected to last for up to three months followed by extensive rehabilitation work.
The North Caucasus is plagued by violence, but vandalism of churches is rare. And Karachayevo-Cherkessia, which has a sizeable Christian minority, had previously enjoyed relative peace. It is not known who was behind the fires, but there has been an upsurge in Islamist militancy in the North Caucasus region, where radicalised youths are fighting for an independent state separate from predominantly Christian Russia.
EGYPT: CHRISTIANS UNDER INTENSE ATTACK Thousands of Egyptian Christians staged a demonstration in front of the United Nations to appeal for international help in stopping violence against the country’s believers. The protest at the end of October followed a series of false allegations, threats of violence, and mass demonstrations by Islamists against the Church in Egypt. At least ten mass demonstrations involving thousands of Muslims had taken place against Egyptian Christians, with the previously unknown group “Front of Islamic Egypt” threatening them with a “bloodbath”. In addition to baseless rumours that Christians were kidnapping and torturing women who had converted to Islam, Muslim anger was ignited when entirely unfounded accusations were made on AlJazeera TV that the Egyptian Church was aligned with Israel and stockpiling weapons in preparation for waging war against Muslims.
Christians from Padang risked their safety to help brothers and sisters in Mentawai. (Source: IFGF GISI Mentawai Relief Team)
Egyptian Christians’ rights were also threatened by the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, a government body, following remarks by a church leader about a verse in the Qur’an. The council said that “the citizenship rights of nonMuslims were conditional to their abiding by the Islamic identity of the State”.
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Representing the Suffering Church Do you share our passion for persecuted Christians who are suffering for their faith? You can stand with our brothers and sisters around the world by helping your local church to understand their plight. Barnabas Fund’s development manager in the UK, Peter Burnett, says: “For the work of Barnabas Fund to be effective, we need people who are willing to go that extra mile; people who will be a voice for our brothers and sisters who are discriminated against because of their faith in our Lord.” In your Church: Church representatives are a voice for the persecuted Church worldwide within their local congregations. The role can be adapted to suit the individual and their church.
What does a representative do? n Publicises the plight of persecuted Christians by distributing Barnabas Aid magazine and other printed materials to church members. n Encourages prayer by raising items at church prayer meetings and/or for the church’s notice sheet; perhaps setting up a local prayer group. n Raises financial support by encouraging the church to consider allocating part of its outward giving and/or holding a special offering for Barnabas Fund projects. n Promotes special events such as Suffering Church Sunday and encourages people to support petitions and campaigns. In your Area: Area representatives promote the work of Barnabas Fund across a local area, organising and encouraging meetings for people from local churches and Christian groups. They may speak at meetings themselves or invite Barnabas Fund to provide a speaker for an event they are organising at a local venue. As a speaker: Barnabas Fund receives frequent enquiries from groups and churches for someone to speak to them about the persecuted Church. We need volunteers who are gifted in preaching and public speaking to give a voice to persecuted Christians who cannot speak for themselves. For more information about the support available for these volunteer roles, please visit our website (www.barnabasfund.org/volunteer) or contact Peter Burnett at the Coventry office (address details on the back cover). The time needed can be very flexible to fit in with your schedule and other commitments. Many volunteers fulfil more than one of these roles!
Regular Giving to Barnabas Fund? Would you consider giving regularly to Barnabas Fund? Regular gifts allow us to plan ahead knowing that we will have a steady income stream to rely on. It also helps us respond quickly to new or emergency requests.
If you would like to set up a regular gift to Barnabas Fund, please complete the Direct Debit form on the
BARNABAS AID JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2011
inside back cover. If you are a UK taxpayer, don’t forget to complete the Gift Aid declaration, so that Barnabas Fund can reclaim the tax on all of the donations that you make. This means that your gifts are worth up to 28% more to us at no extra cost to you.
Find us on Facebook; Follow us on Twitter Barnabas Fund has a Facebook page where we can share information, press releases and items for prayer with our supporters. To receive frequent updates on current issues, visit www.facebook.com/BarnabasFund and “like” the page. You can also follow us on Twitter, a quick and free service that lets you keep in touch with up-to-date stories relating to persecuted Christians around the world. Barnabas updates Twitter regularly with prayer points and links to news stories. To get involved with Barnabas Twitter, visit http://twitter.com/ BarnabasFund.
Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent In the weeks before Easter we especially remember our Lord’s suffering, so this is also a very appropriate time to remember those around the world who are suffering for their faith in Him. Barnabas Fund invites you to join us in prayer for the persecuted Church as you prepare for Easter. Please look out for your copy of the Barnabas Fund 2011 Lent Prayer Booklet, which will be included with the March/April 2011 edition of Barnabas Aid. We hope you find this a useful tool to inspire and assist your prayers for Christians around the world.
The aid agency for the persecuted Church Please send the following resources (indicate quantity required): Devotional Journal (£5 + £2 P&P)
Yes, I would like to help the persecuted Church Here is my gift of ______________________
Gift Aid Declaration (Applicable to UK tax payers only) I authorise Barnabas Fund, registered charity no. 1092935, to treat all donations I have made since 6 April 2006 and all subsequent donations as Gift Aid donations until I notify you otherwise.
Please use my gift for
Wherever the need is greatest (General Fund)
Signature ______________________________________ Date ____________ If you have previously signed a Gift Aid Declaration for Barnabas Fund, you do not need to sign again. To qualify for Gift Aid, what you pay in income tax or capital gains tax must at least equal the amount of tax reclaimed on donations to registered charities in the tax year. Please inform us if you change your name or address or stop paying tax.
I enclose a cheque/voucher payable to “Barnabas Fund”. Mastercard American Express Please debit my Visa Maestro CAF card /other charity card
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or issue date
I do not require an acknowledgement of this gift. I would like to give regularly through my bank. Please send me the appropriate form. (UK supporters may use the Direct Debit form below.) Alternative Gift Card To make an alternative gift for a loved one, please contact your national Barnabas office.
Please return this form to Barnabas Fund at your national office or to the UK office. Addresses are on the back cover. Barnabas Fund will not give your address or email to anyone else. Phone 0800 587 4006 or visit our website at www.barnabasfund.org to make a credit card donation. From outside UK phone +44 1672 565031. Registered Charity number 1092935 Company registered in England number 4029536 *If the project chosen is sufficiently funded, we reserve the right to use designated gifts either for another project of a similar type or for another project in the same country.
Supporters in Germany: please turn to back cover for how to send gifts to Barnabas Fund.
DIRECT DEBIT for UK supporters who would like to give regularly
I/We want to bring hope and aid to the persecuted Church by a regular gift, to be used where it is most needed (General Fund) or for ________________________________*(give reference number of project to be supported) Name
I would like to give a regular gift of £__________________________________ (amount in words) __________________________________________________ Starting on 1st / 11th / 21st _________________ and then every month/quarter/year (delete as applicable) until further notice. This Direct Debit is a new one / in addition to / replaces an earlier Standing Order / Direct Debit in favour of Barnabas Fund. (delete as applicable).
Instruction to your bank or building society to pay by Direct Debit Please fill in the whole form including official use box using a ball point pen and send it to: Barnabas Fund, 9 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX Name and full postal address of your bank or building society
2 5 3 6 4 5
Reference (Barnabas Fund to complete) Instruction to your bank or building society: Please pay Barnabas Fund Direct Debits from the account detailed in this instruction subject to the safeguards assured to by the Direct Debit Guarantee. I understand that this instruction may remain with Barnabas Fund and, if so, details will be passed electronically to my bank/building society. DD18
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*If the project chosen is sufficiently funded, we reserve the right to use designated gifts either for another project of a similar type or for another project in the same country. The Direct Debit Guarantee This Guarantee is offered by all Banks and Building Societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits. If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit Barnabas Fund will notify you 14 working days in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request Barnabas Fund to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request. If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit by Barnabas Fund or your bank or building society, you are guaranteed a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from from your bank or building society. If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when Barnabas Fund asks you to. You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify us.
The “Barnabas Fund Distinctive”
Help us share the message of Barnabas Fund We are always seeking to make more people aware of the plight of the persecuted Church, and what Barnabas Fund does to bring hope and aid to our suffering brothers and sisters. We would like to ask you to help us spread our message wider. Will you introduce your Christian friends to our work and encourage them to take an interest in it?
Why not send us names and contact details (with permission!) of your friends/family who share your concern for the persecuted Church? Enclosed with this edition of the magazine is a card for you to fill out and return to your nearest Barnabas office (addresses below). Thank you so much for anything you can do to raise awareness of the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters, and of what Barnabas is doing to help them. We are so grateful for the faithfulness of our supporters in prayer, concern and giving. “Your love for the Lord’s people gives us great joy and encouragement, because you have refreshed their hearts.” (Philemon 1:7)
How to Find Us You may contact Barnabas Fund at the following addresses: UK 9 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX Telephone 024 7623 1923 Fax 024 7683 4718 From outside the UK Telephone +44 24 7623 1923 Fax +44 24 7683 4718 Email email@example.com Registered charity number 1092935 Company registered in England number 4029536 For a list of all trustees, please contact Barnabas Fund UK at the Coventry address above. Australia Postal Suite 107, 236 Hyperdome, Loganholme QLD 4129 Telephone (07) 3806 1076 or 1300 365 799 Fax (07) 3806 4076 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Germany German supporters may send gifts for Barnabas Fund via Hilfe für Brüder who will provide you with a tax-deductible receipt. Please mention that the donation is for “SPC 20 Barnabas Fund”. If you would like your donation to go to a specific project of Barnabas Fund, please inform the Barnabas Fund office in Pewsey, UK. Account holder: Hilfe für Brüder e.V. Account number: 415 600 Bank: Evang. Kreditgenossenschaft Stuttgart Bankcode (BLZ): 520 604 10
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barnabasaid the magazine of Barnabas Fund Executive Editor Steve Carter Published by Barnabas Fund The Old Rectory, River Street, Pewsey, Wiltshire SN9 5DB, UK Telephone 01672 564938 Fax 01672 565030 From outside UK: Telephone +44 1672 564938 Fax +44 1672 565030 Email email@example.com © Barnabas Fund 2010. For permission to reproduce articles from this magazine, please contact the International Headquarters address above. The paper used is produced using wood fibre at a mill that has been awarded the ISO14001 certificate for environmental management.
To donate by credit card, please visit the website or phone 0800 587 4006 (from outside the UK phone +44 1672 565031).